Robert Cialdini coined the term Social Proof in his book ‘Influence’ in 1984. This phenomenon is also referred to as ‘informational social influence’ and is the idea that people imitate the actions of others to emulate the behavior in certain situations. For instance, when someone does not know what to do in a social setting, they will examine people’s behavior around them who are active participants in the situation and take clues so they can fit in. People do this in unfamiliar situations like exclusive events.
Social proof in terms of Marketing follows a very similar concept. People tend to look for recommendations and reviews before setting their minds to purchasing from a particular brand. For this reason, online brands work hard to get reviews from customers to demonstrate their credibility as a form of social proof.
Social proof is not limited to reviews and may take the form of celebrity endorsements, social media likes and shares, case studies, earned media, and many more. Let’s look at things no one tells you about the power of Social Proof and why it is essential in Digital Marketing.
Consumers are seeking user-generated content (UGC)
Every one of us has sought advice from a friend, loved one, or person of authority in a certain niche. It’s common not to find someone in your circle looking for the same product, so people will turn to UGC. This is where consumer reviews become valuable. Consumer reviews possess monumental importance in moving customers toward a purchasing decision and are an impactful form of social proof. Brands will leverage social proof to increase sales and proactively engage with review-leaving customers, a popular tactic for which many marketing internships will train you.
Organic reach for brands is diminishing, and paid ads cost more.
In 2019, Facebook started a plan that involved changing the algorithm, which affected how users see content from brands and the costs brands have to pay for ads.
This new algorithm made it far more difficult for brands on these platforms to break through the clutter and have consumers view their posts without paying to promote them.
Brands had to shift focus on creating highly engaging content and making personalized interactions with their consumers, which started to become costly and time-consuming.
However, activating user-generated campaigns with the assistance of their own customers and highlighting buyers through social proof generate a higher ROI than retargeting ads.
Trust in media is declining.
While more brands jump on the bandwagon of e-commerce, it’s getting increasingly difficult to spot legitimate businesses wanting to make an honest living. In a pool of websites, and online businesses, it’s nearly impossible to decide where to shop from and what brand will give you a service worth the price you’re paying. People will generally turn to social proof, their friends’ words, influencers promoting a page or brand, etc. This is another practical reason why most efforts are towards building social proof.
Ad Blockers are multiplying.
In an age where people search for convenience, annoying ads that appear in the middle of scrolling a feed or watching a video is the opposite of convenience.
Consumers are searching for an online experience that doesn’t involve advertisements.
2018 experienced a trend leading up to an increase in ad-blocking app downloads. In a survey, US ad blockers provided reasons for the increase in downloads, and the top seven reasons were centered around the idea of ads interrupting the user experience. Other reasons focused on the user’s privacy and security. This is a message from consumers saying they don’t want to see ads, so brands must find non-intrusive alternatives like relying on social proof.
Influencer marketing is soaring.
Influencer marketing is rising as a viable marketing tactic getting more and more popular by the day. This type of marketing is super effective because influencers are generally considered ‘tastemakers’ because they possess their own networks and influences. Studies show that about 49% of people rely on influencers for recommendations before purchasing products. People trust influencers the same way they would acknowledge a recommendation from a trusted friend.
You can consider influencers as “celebrity social proof” that people look up to and adore who use various products and services, making people compelled to buy those same services and products.
People will look at customer reviews to determine whether a purchase is worth it. Additionally, since organic reach for brands is diminishing, and ads cost a lot more, companies have to resort to alternatives like social proofing. Even if your brand can afford to run advertisements, consumers and social media users have started using ad blockers to cater to their convenience.
Another reason for social proof is to help potential customers gain trust and increase the credibility of your brand. Finally, since influencer marketing is soaring, it’s a wise marketing tactic to take full advantage and use influencers to promote your brand. We hope you find this article insightful.
If you want to learn more about harnessing the power of social proof in your digital marketing strategy, visit our page on Social Media Marketing & Management. It provides valuable insights and expert guidance on leveraging social proof to enhance your brand’s credibility and drive results.